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Army Corps ceasing freshwater discharges from Lake Okeechobee into St. Lucie River

Lake is 2.63 feet higher than at this time last year
Posted at 1:29 PM, Jan 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-08 13:32:02-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Army Corps of Engineers announced Friday they will end freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie River, ending months of discharges following an unusually wet summer and fall.

This is in accordance as the agency transitions into dry season operations.

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The discharges started Oct. 14 after the lake level reached 16.21 feet.

"We originally started releases in the fall with the intent to slow down and hopefully reverse the sudden lake rise after October saw heavy rainfall at 170% of average," said Col. Andrew Kelly, Jacksonville District commander, said in a written statement. "Unfortunately, our plans had to change in November when Tropical Storm Eta produced even more rain, especially in the southern part of the system. Despite the high-volume releases, we've spent weeks with the lake stage the highest it’s been for this time of year under the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule in 2008."

The Corps began reducing discharges in December.

The lake is currently at 15.71 feet, which the Army Corps said is still high for this time of year. Lake Okeechobee is 2.63 feet higher than it was Jan. 8, 2020.